Monday, July 1, 2013
Here is a paragraph that caught my eye as I was reading yesterday. It's a parade scene. Jo Ann and her cousin are young. One of Jo Ann's sisters simply can't wait any longer to toss her baton into the air.
Here is what Jo Ann tells us she sees:
For a long, gleaming moment it hangs there, a silver hyphen against the hot sky. Over the hectic heads of the children and the smooth blue-and-white blur of crepe-papered spokes and handlebar streamers, above the squinting smiles and upturned eyes, a silver baton rises miraculously, lingers for a moment against the sun, and then drops back down, into the waiting hand. ("Cousins")Read it again. We are startled, first, by the surprise imagery—the silver hyphen, the hectic heads, the hot sky. We are startled into paying close attention, and time is suddenly ticking on a slow motion clock. Now Beard keeps our eyes on the ground—on the smooth blue-and-white blur of crepe-papered spokes and handlebar streamers—so that for a moment we lose track of the baton, must assume that it is rising still, that it is going up up up above our heads. Beard establishes the distance between earth and sky; she extends the distance. And now the sound of the passage shifts—the language cools and simplifies. The baton "drops back down, into the waiting hand" because magic, in its final moment, does not need exclamation marks. The baton takes its long way up, and then it is dropped and snapped and clutched—quick, decisive.
Lessons on time.